The two projects are among a total of four state highway projects in Greene County for which funding is included in the proposed $1.3 billion 1999-2000 TDOT budget, which covers the year beginning July 1 and ending June 30, 2000.
Three of the four local projects are related to the controversial proposed new four-lane state highway that would link Pigeon Forge in Sevier County with the Tri-Cities area, through Greene County.
The fourth project, the one-mile bypass around the center of Tusculum from the Erwin Highway to U.S. Highway 11E, has been strongly advocated by the town's government for some time. It is one of only 36 projects statewide funded for the actual construction phase.
In brief, the four projects are:
• the proposed new four-lane Greeneville bypass, which would leave U.S. Highway 11E at a point west of Hal Henard Road, go northeast and cross state Route 70N (the Rogersville Road), and state Route 172 (the Baileyton Road) and continue to a point near the Kingsport Highway (state Route 93);
• a section from the Cocke County line to a point north of the Nolichucky River at Bright Hope Road, where preliminary engineering also is funded for expansion to four lanes;
• a new four-lane section that would extend from east of Pates Lane to an intersection with U.S. Highway 11E west of Hal Henard Road, where right-of-way acquisition is funded; and
• funds for actual construction of the four-lane bypass around the center of Tusculum, which would go north from a point along the Erwin Highway (state Route 107) just outside the city, follow Moon Creek, and use Greene Valley Developmental Center property on its way to a new intersection with U.S. Highway 11E.
State Sen. Tommy Haun, R-1st, of Greeneville, said Friday that the 3.9-mile engineering project will be for "the first portion of a bypass around Greeneville."
This section of the proposed highway would begin west of Greeneville where the proposed relocation of U.S. Highway 321 would intersect with U.S. Highway 11E (west of Hal Henard Road), and extend to near state Route 93 (the Kingsport Highway).
In passing around Greeneville on the north side, this 3.9-mile bypass section would intersect with state Route (S.R.) 70N (the Rogersville Road) and S.R. 172 (the Baileyton Road), and end close to S.R. 93 (the Kingsport Highway).
Advocates have said that this section will pass near Greeneville Municipal Airport and provide greatly improved access to it.
At the annual Greene County Partnership legislative luncheon on March 5, Haun said he would push for a four-lane highway roughly following the current Kingsport Highway to exit 44 on Interstate 81.
He said Friday that this project is "only in the feasibility study stage right now," but if it is built, the new highway would not simply add two lanes to the existing highway, but would be new construction, on one side or the other of existing S.R. 93.
Haun said that the Kingsport Highway is "so curvy, crowded and highly populated" that the new road will have to be built "well away from it."
Preliminary engineering studies also are funded for a section of the planned new highway from the Greene/Cocke county line to north of the Nolichucky River at Bright Hope Road.
The section of U.S. 321 from the Cocke County line to the river is the newest, most recently improved section of the Newport Highway, Haun said. If enough state right of way exists, he said, it might be possible to improve this section of U.S. 321 by building two additional lanes next to the existing highway.
State officials have said that, unlike this section, most of U.S. 321 is so curvy and surrounded by so many homes, farms and businesses that widening the road would be prohibitively costly.
Pates Lane to 11E
The section of the proposed new highway that would leave the existing U.S. 321 east of Pates Lane and continue on to U.S. 11E is funded for right- of-way acquisition. Part of this section lies west of Hal Henard Road, and wherever it crosses U.S. 11E would also be the location of the western end of the proposed Greeneville northern bypass, Haun said.
Luanne Grandinetti, a spokesperson for TDOT in Nashville, said that no dollar amounts are attached to state road projects at the engineering stages because the costs are generally not high.
No dollar amounts are made public for projects about to be bid because doing so would be "giving too much away" to prospective bidders, she said.
The proposed Tusculum bypass would pass east of the city, and would parallel Moon Creek for part of its length.
State and local officials said last week that bids for the project will be sought in October of this year. Construction is expected to begin by summer of 2000, Haun said.
The bypass will route traffic away from Tusculum College and Doak Elementary School, which are located not far from each other in the middle of Tusculum. Currently, truck traffic on S.R. 107 must pass directly in front of Tusculum College.